How Water Towers Work


Purpose and function of elevated water storage tanks.

The job of finding enough water, making it safe to use, and then reliably distributing it to the system customers with almost no downtime is a monumental task that requires a lot of infrastructure. And, probably the most visible component of a public water system is the elevated storage tank, also known as a water tower. I’m Grady Hillhouse and this is Public Works, my video series on infrastructure and the humanmade world around us.


Writing/Editing/Production: Grady Hillhouse
Animation: Stephanie White, Connor Claver, Dayan D’aniello

Tonic and Energy by Elexive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License


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  1. "Public Works" is a new video format I'm trying out. Let me know if you like it, and if so, what topics you'd like me to cover in the future!

  2. The towns around here don't have water towers. There is usually a storage tank up on the nearest hill. I always found it hilarious when I traveled to the flat Midwest and every town had a water tower with their town's name on it.

  3. This video is great & has lot of effort & researches behind it, Great job!
    Water Towers are great solutions for the Water network, that to design the network on the Max. daily demands only for the network before the water tower, but the network after the water towers (the downstream) will remain designed on Max. hourly demand.
    However, there are other solutions to element the water towers & to design the entire network on the Max. daily demand by having a mandatory 2 days ground storage tank under each housebuilding.
    There are too many other solutions as well. Thanks

  4. There is about 60 seconds of information in this long winded blather explaination that yeah a tank holds water. Duh.

  5. Interesting. I live in North Texas and we have so many water towers throughout the cities. However being from southern New England, you do not see any water towers.

  6. i have absolutely no idea if we have watertowers here in Switzerland…. most terrain is hills or mountains, so it flows naturally doen and pressurizes self. more often than not it has to be de-pressurized before feeding into the village network. lower parts of Switzerland use pumps to get groundwater pressurized…

  7. Just want to say keep up the great work. I just completed a 4 year MEng Engineering course over in the UK and I have learnt so much from your videos.

    Also, because I am very pedantic, in 2:21, positive charge flows from high to low voltage so electrons actually flow from low to high voltage. Anyway, I am sure you knew that but just thought I'd point that out as a fellow engineer!

  8. I would like to see a video on how water pressure reducing valves operate. I’ve taken them apart but I still don’t understand who they work.

  9. I have designed water systems with three wells and two elevated water tanks at different elevations. Make for interesting calculations.
    Two wells and one tank served as pressure sources for the higher system and the lower system. The third well and second tank was the pressure source for the lower system.

  10. Water Towers are also used for allowing valves to be closed. When you close a valve rapidly, the water flowing hits the closed valve and flows in the opposite direction which can cause the pipes to hammer and cause leaks. This water has to have somewhere to go therefor it goes back in the Tower.


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